The Good Way by Julie Tate-Libby

The Good Way by Julie Tate-Libby

Author:Julie Tate-Libby
Language: eng
Format: epub
Publisher: Koehler Books
Published: 2019-09-10T11:56:24+00:00

Smoke curled into shapes and hung suspended in the sunlight. The smell of scorched herbs filled the room. Squinting from my sleeping bag, I watched the lama fill the water bowls. He worked from left to right, carefully wiping each bowl clean before tipping water from one bowl to the other. I lay still, listening to the chanting.

“Om namo bhagavate bendzay sarwaparma dana . . .” His voice rose and fell in the stillness.

I glanced toward Gandji’s sleeping bag, but he was gone. I sat up, smoothing my hair with my fingers. It felt like a Brillo pad. I hadn’t showered in days. What do I look like? A small mirror by the altar caught my eye. When the lama left, I tiptoed across the room.

The girl in the reflection looked strange. Blue eyes stared out from a deeply tanned face. Her dirty-blond hair lay matted around her cheeks. The cheekbones appeared more pronounced—firmer, as though she knew something she hadn’t known before. I smiled. I had lost weight.

Outside, Gandji talked to the lama. I could smell fried bread wafting from the kitchen. I pulled on my dress, shoved my feet into my boots, and walked out.

Gandji shot me a rueful grin. “I lose.” He pointed to his pocket to show he had no money.

“I see,” I said.

“Gambling no good for Sherpa.” He laughed.

The lama’s wife came out with a steaming pot and handed me a cracked teacup. I sipped butter tea. Butter tea is made from black tea, butter, and salt. In high altitudes, it replaces salt and adds fat to the local diet. Today, it tasted more like chicken broth, only slightly rancid.

Gandji pointed at the blue sky and smiled. I smiled back. We made exaggerated gestures toward the mountains, the trail, the view. Because I didn’t speak the language, people treated me like a child. They patted my head. They pointed to where I should sit, where I should sleep, and what I should eat. They talked around me, as though I didn’t exist. Sometimes it felt as if they’d forgotten I was there. I felt like a voyeur, silently peering into their lives, taking notes in my journal, and then moving on.

The lama slapped Gandji on the back and roared with laughter. Gandji shrugged and said something that made them laugh even harder. Then he turned to me and picked up my pack. It was time to go.

“Namaste.” I bowed my head to the lama and his wife.

“Namaste.” The lama’s wife clasped my hands together and leaned in. She said something I didn’t understand and waved her hands earnestly. Chuckling, Gandji nodded and kissed her cheek.

As we started down the trail, Gandji stuck out his tongue and rolled his eyes, mimicking a monster. “Yeti.”

“Yeti?” I must have looked alarmed because Gandji grinned and nodded vigorously.

“Miche!” He said the word in Sherpa—man bear. “But miche bad. Bad luck. Bad accident. Death.”

“What do we do if we run into one?” I laughed. Is he joking or serious?

“Run!” He slapped me on the back, moving in front of me.


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